One of the best things about visiting a new city is all the new cafes and restaurants to try. At the same time, one of the worst things about visiting a new city is all the new cafes and restaurants to try. How will you know what’s good and bad? Which coffee shops have the x factor and which bistros shouldn’t be touched with a bargepole? Let me let you into the secret of London’s best coffee and lunch spots so you can make the most out of your time here...
Hidden away in Shakespeare's Globe Education Building, this is a wonderfully cosy place for theatre lovers to stop by for a coffee or light lunch. Ralph Fiennes himself has even been spotted here having a secret break in between shows! With book shelves filled with Shakespeare volumes and cosy armchairs tucked in every corner, you will love putting your feet up with a good book and one of Theo's famous flat whites. A buffet lunch is available from 12pm onwards, serving generous portions of delicious home-cooked classics from around the world, served with two freshly made salads of your choice, all for under £5. Tucked away in the heart of the original Elizabethan theatre district, this is a hidden gem that you won't want to miss.
(1-2 Bear Gardens, London, SE1 9ED)
Who knew that buried just under London's bustling Piccadilly Circus lies a stunning art deco French restaurant? Featuring an enormous, grand Parisian-style dining room with high vaulted ceilings and marble columns, this jewel of a brasserie offers a surprisingly good-value menu for the grandiose style of the decor. Why not drop in for a spot of tea and a patisserie after a long afternoon of sightseeing? Zedel also serves a competitively priced set lunch and dinner menu - guests can feast on authentic Carottes Rapees, Coq Au Vin and Tartes aux Fruits for just £12.75 per head. If you're also looking for a unique night out, Zedel is also attached to the 1920's-style Bar American and the Crazy Coqs jazz club, where visitors can enjoy a fabulous open mic cabaret show every Thursday evening, showcasing many respected names in musical talent from the heart of London's West End. Something for everyone!
(20 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED)
Rabot 1745, Chocolate Cafe
This fair-trade chocolate cafe can be found on a side street just off London's famous Borough Market, offering quirky bar-stool seating in a stylish, colonial plantation inspired space. Sourced from the company's original cocoa estate in St. Lucia, customers can enjoy an exclusive range of innovative beverages using freshly roasted cocoa as an alternative to coffee beans. Why not stop by for a chocolate latte after an artisan lunch from one of the many pop-up food stalls in trendy Borough Market?
(2-4 Bedale Street, London, SE1 9AL)
Drink, Shop & Do
This cafe does exactly what is says on the tin. Not only can you stop by for a traditional afternoon tea in a bright and airy teashop setting, but customers can also purchase quirky, affordable products from a range of independent designers, as well as add an activity to their teatime booking to liven up the afternoon! This can include being trained by a friendly art-and-crafts expert in how to make hand crafted flower headbands, printed tote bags - even nipple tassels! What's more, this tea room transforms by night into a trendy cocktail bar with an 'old skool' night club just downstairs - perfect for a truly unique and varied night-out in London!
(9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, N1 9DX).
For those hardcore tea enthusiasts out there, this cafe is perfect to shelter from a typical rainy spell on your visit to London. With several branches across the city, this kitsch, up-and-coming brand offers a wide variety of both classic and innovative tea blends, including Blue Cornflower Early Grey and Gunpowder Green Tea. A friendly staff member will also help you choose the perfect cake to compliment the flavour of your beverage (the Zucchini and Lime Cake is a must-try). Tea is served in authentic leaf form in a generous tea pot, complete with a personal strainer for just £2.70. With plenty of wooden tables, cosy armchairs and free WiFi, this is a perfect spot to refuel and find your bearings whilst soaking up the easy-listening playlist and laid-back atmosphere.
(9-11 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 2AQ)
Dominique Chapman is a trained performer and first class scholar from London. She is also a Local at CityUnscripted in her spare time. See her profile here.